Oct. 25--Bikers and walkers will have new options when a trail is built through the middle of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter to connect with the existing Salem Creek Greenway to the south.
The completion of the entire trail could be a couple years away, but the route is basically set and some advance preparation has taken place.
The contract for building the first segment of the trail -- from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Third Street -- will be awarded next year. Much of the new trail will run alongside an unused railroad track that runs through the heart of the research park.
Future construction will carry the trail south along the new Research Parkway, and on past Rams (Stadium) Drive to Salem Creek Greenway. Alongside part of Research Parkway there is a stretch of widened sidewalk that will be part of the new trail.
Along with a public park the Innovation Quarter is building near the old Bailey power plant, the trail will be a key amenity for a research area that hopes to become an attractive place for young professionals in search of a high-tech job.
"We want to promote cycling as much as possible," said Eric Tomlinson, the president of the Innovation Quarter. "Eventually the rails-with-trails project will stretch through the Innovation Quarter to link to the trail that goes to Salem Lake. That will create a pretty nice recreation area for walking, cycling and ambling."
Once all the links are in place, Tomlinson said, someone could make a 20-mile loop by taking the new trail to Salem Creek Greenway, going around Salem Lake, then returning on the trail through the research park
Most rail trails are built on the path of an abandoned rail line, but this one is different: It will run beside the existing track because of a requirement that the track be kept in case it is once more needed for trains.
Ivey said it is very unlikely the rail line will ever be used again, though.
"The trail will be parallel to the rail tracks that are already there, which we will continue to inspect," Ivey said. "Everywhere there is a railroad crossing of a city street there will be a parallel bridge built. That actually used to be a double track."
The unused track is disconnected at each end from any rail line still in use. The northern end of the new walking and cycling trail would start on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in between Linden Street and Ivy Avenue. It would pass south and cross Seventh Street, then continue south behind the tobacco building being renovated for Inmar Inc.
Forsyth Technical Community College recently committed to taking 24,000 square feet of space at 525@Vine, adjacent to the Inmar building. The college will put biotechnology and nanotechnology programs at the site.
Ivey said the design, lease arrangements and other aspects of the rail trail have been going on for a couple years, with that part of the project going to contract in the early part of 2014.
Matthew Burczyk, who handles bicycle transportation planning for Winston-Salem, said that the ultimate cost of the trail will depend on what kinds of materials are selected for the surface.
"The ultimate goal is to have it connect to the Salem Creek Greenway," Burczyk said, adding that the southern end of the trail can be built in connection with the Salem Creek Connector.
The first segment of the project, running from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Third Street, has a price tag of about $5.5 million, according to city officials. Most of the money will come from federal and state sources, although Winston-Salem and the Innovation Quarter would each chip in $400,000.
The trail will have lighting, benches, trash and recycling cans, bike racks, drinking fountains and security telephones and cameras, city officials said.
(c)2013 Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.)
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